First a few facts to begin with: Under New Jersey law, a patrolman or state trooper is permitted to legally arrest a motorist for drunken driving per N.J.S.A. 39:5-25. While police have the ability to take a driver into custody and charge him or her with DWI or drug DUI, the law is not without some limitations.
As New Jersey trial lawyers experienced in defending individuals accused of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, we know that the law allows a law enforcement officer to arrest a person for DWI-DUI without the need for a warrant if, and only if, the policeman has “probable cause” that the driver was operating his or her vehicle in violation of New Jersey law (specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) and/or N.J.S.A. 39:3-10.13).
Probable cause usually exists when the totality of the facts and circumstances that are known to the officer makes it reasonable for that individual to believe that the subject of the arrest was operating his or her car while in an impaired condition, either by alcohol, doctor-prescribed drugs or illicit substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, meth or some other controlled dangerous substance (CDS).
As DWI defense lawyers, one of the things we look for when representing a motorists accused of DWI-DUI is whether or not an objectively reasonable basis existed to result in the traffic stop and subsequent arrest. If not, then all of the facts and/or evidence acquired by the police as a result of the arrest should be ruled as invalid and should not be allowed as evidence in the case against the driver. This would pertain, but not exclusively so, to certain potentially incriminating evidence such as blood test and/or breath test measurements, seized substances or drugs, etc.).
One obvious instance that might cause a police officer to place a driver under arrest for DWI is if that driver was involved in a traffic accident. In cases such as this, an patrolman may very well assume that a possibly intoxicated individual may have had a hand in causing a crash, though accident investigation results would need to be studied to get the full picture. Instance of alleged DWI-related car and truck collisions happen quite often in the Garden State, not unlike the following examples we ran into online.
Based on reports, a Connecticut man was involved in a one-car crash along a stretch of Rte 3 late on a Sunday night. According to the police, the 61-year-old man was not far from the entrance ramp to the New Jersey Turnpike when his vehicle caught fire on the roadside around 10pm. The North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue team reportedly responded to a report of a car fire in the area. When police arrived, officers found the driver standing outside of his burning BMW.
During an interview with officers, the driver allegedly had slurred speech and failed a subsequent field sobriety test. Further news reports indicated that he had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.12 percent. As a result, police issued the subject a summons for DWI.
Connecticut man charged with DWI after car accident on Route 3, NJ.com, March 04, 2013